On not leaving the Church of England

            The goings on at Christ Church, Oxford over the last four years have been bewildering for all disinterested observers.  I’m in the position of knowing people on both ‘sides’.  I’ve known Martyn Percy for many years, and hold him in great esteem.  I don’t know if he’d count me as a friend, but I’mContinue reading “On not leaving the Church of England”

Revisiting Anglican classics 5: John Keble’s Christian Year

            It’s something of a surprise to many people to learn that one of the best-selling poetry books of the nineteenth century was by an Anglican priest.  John Keble’s Christian Year was published in 1827.  Sub-titled Thoughts in Verse for the Sundays and Holydays throughout the Year, it sold in the hundreds of thousands throughoutContinue reading “Revisiting Anglican classics 5: John Keble’s Christian Year”

Revisiting Anglican Classics 4: Hannah More’s Practical Piety

            There can’t be many readers of this post who have heard of, let alone read, Hannah More’s Practical Piety (1811).    It’s not a work of great literary merit, nor is it particularly original theologically.  It is not available today in a modern critical edition.  Although it was reprinted many times in the nineteenth century,Continue reading “Revisiting Anglican Classics 4: Hannah More’s Practical Piety”

Whither Church reform? 1: Problems of the de-centralization agenda

            Another front has opened up in the internal conflicts of the Church of England in the last two or three years, bypassing the deep-set fissures over gender equality and human sexuality.  With the quarrels over the ordination of women largely resolved – I don’t at all mean that there aren’t continuing disparities and concerns,Continue reading “Whither Church reform? 1: Problems of the de-centralization agenda”

Gold, frankincense – and myth

            One of the things that doesn’t get easier year by year, when you’re ordained, is trying to find new things to say about the Christmas story that don’t unintentionally upset people who remain wedded to the literal truth of everything they absorbed about Christmas when they were young.  It’s to no avail – especiallyContinue reading “Gold, frankincense – and myth”

Revisiting Anglican classics 3: Newman’s Parochial and Plain Sermons

            Some people may be surprised that I want to lay claim to John Henry Newman’s Parochial and Plain Sermons as an ‘Anglican classic’.  After all, Newman converted to Roman Catholicism in 1845, and as his spiritual autobiography, his Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1864) made clear, this was not a sudden or hasty, unprepared change,Continue reading “Revisiting Anglican classics 3: Newman’s Parochial and Plain Sermons”

The faith of poetry and the poetry of faith

            My first book of poetry was a Puffin book of children’s verse, with a light blue cover; I enjoyed poking around in it, but I can remember very little else about it.  Poetry disappeared from my life in early adolescence, but reappeared at ‘O’ level with passages from the Prelude, Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, andContinue reading “The faith of poetry and the poetry of faith”

Revisiting Anglican Classics 2: A.M. Ramsey, The Gospel and the Catholic Church (1936)

            Is this the greatest book of Anglican theology published in the twentieth century?  I think there’s a good case for saying so.  It’s certainly one of the most influential, and a book which retains much of its freshness and vitality 85 years on from its publication.              It’s not without flaws.  So let’s getContinue reading “Revisiting Anglican Classics 2: A.M. Ramsey, The Gospel and the Catholic Church (1936)”

St. John Henry Newman – a saint for Anglicans?

            Anglicans have generally welcomed Newman’s canonisation in 2019 with acclaim, in my view rightly so – as you’ll see.  But there is an irony in this.  Anglicans cannot really claim to have been ahead of the Roman Catholic Church in seeing Newman as a saint.  Few Anglicans in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuriesContinue reading “St. John Henry Newman – a saint for Anglicans?”